SYRACUSE – The Wawasee Lady Warrior gymnastics team wasted no time in making a statement in the 2013-14 season.
The talented squad was challenged by its head coach, Nika Prather, to make an impression in the season’s first dual meet against defending sectional champion Angola. The Lady Warriors rose to the occasion and gave plenty of reasons for fans to be excited for the season ahead as Wawasee claimed a victory over the Hornets, 96.1-84.15.
“I told them this week that I wanted us to look competitive in this meet,” said Prather. “I wanted to be competitive tonight and the girls were. We were mentally prepared and came with our game faces on. We knew Angola would be tough and we knew Alex Nickel would be here so we knew it would be a tough meet.”
Nickel, the 2011-12 state champion in both uneven bars and beam, was undoubtedly the star of the meet on Tuesday night, but the senior was the only sting the Hornets could offer. Despite not having solid team scores around her, Nickel made the most of her meet by placing first in all three of the events she competed in. Nickel scored an 8.9 on the bars, 8.85 on the beam and wowed the crowd with her 9.4 on the floor, two-tenths off of her score that placed her second in last year’s state finals.
Nickel was the only Hornet to score higher than an eight on any event. Wawasee, however, managed to have four girls eclipse that mark in the team’s first event, vault.
Taylor Busse took the top spot in vault, scoring an 8.4. Emily Allen claimed second with an 8.3 and Molly Smith scored an 8.15 to edge out Ashleigh Frecker’s 8.1.
“We started on vault and that went pretty well,” Prather stated. “After that start, I thought ‘Wow, okay, I’m happy with that, let’s take this momentum to bars. There the girls, honestly, did a lot better than I thought they would because we had a shaky practice on bars last night, but they pulled it out today.”
Busse led the Warriors on the bars with a 7.85. Allen (7.45) and Smith (6.4) took third and fourth place, respectively, for Wawasee. With two events down and two to go, Wawasee held a 46.55-41.00 lead over Angola.
Wawasee showed poise on the beam, taking second through fourth yet again. Busse finished in fourth with a 7.6. Smith’s 7.65 was good enough to get her third place in the event, but even more impressive was Smith was the only Warrior to not fall during her routine. Allen claimed second place with an impressive 8.55.
While Nickel stole the show on the floor for the night, Allen put some heat on the talented senior Hornet. Allen, also a senior, impressed her home crowd by taking second place with a fantastic score of 9.15. Allen would take honors in the all-around category with a score of 33.45. Busse finished second in the category with 32.25 and Smith in third with her 30.4. Angola’s Kennedy Trine finished fourth in all-around with a score of 28.65.
Wawasee finished with a junior varsity team score of 59.7. Deea Coy took first on the beam. Taylor Heck took first in vault and Ashleigh Frecker placed first with her floor exercise. Angola did not have any junior varsity competitors.
Wawasee (1-0) is back home on Thursday night against Fort Wayne Carroll. Competition begins at 6:30 p.m.